How Many Asian Countries Qualify For The World Cup Book Review of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper

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Book Review of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper

Football is called “the beautiful game” because of its simplicity and popularity; unlike ice hockey or baseball, it can be played on a piece of dirt with nothing more than a bundle of rags. Yet football, like any other human activity, reflects more about the people who play the game than just a scorecard or trophy. Simon Kuper’s new book, Soccernomics, looks deeper into the world of the most popular game on the planet to understand trends, suggest reasons for the current global hierarchy, and suggest the next nations to become superpowers in the global competition. wide

Kuper starts with a simple question. Football in the modern parlance began as association football between British clubs and universities. A workman’s game, it lacked the “gentle” rules of cricket in emphasizing physical play and endurance over strategy and position. England, therefore, had an advantage that was as much as a century and a half over some nations, yet they only boast one World Cup victory in the last hundred years. Why, asks Soccernomics, did the titans fall?

The book delves deeply into this issue. It was never a case, says Kuper, of England underperforming but rather overperforming: the tiny island nation is too small to support a large talent pool, too cold to support year-long play, and too isolated from rivals to create improvement. He examines the financial decisions made by English clubs and explains their repeated poor performances.

The book also jumps into the question of football on the global circuit.

Economics and performances are linked together throughout the text. Should big time clubs sign big players for big money? Should an organization be run as a business or as a model of success on the field? Can a franchise expect a hot player to repeat their success? Kuper often goes against conventional thinking, using logical examples of statistical trends rather than the subjectivity of fans and ownership.

Soccernomics highlights how different countries are on the verge of breaking out. Nations such as England, France and Italy have a large talent pool and a track record of success, yet recent conquests by what were then considered inferior football nations have seen the hegemony crumble. The rise of African countries and Asian powerhouses such as Japan and South Korea come to mind. Such upsets, according to Soccernomics, are sure to be the norm rather than the exception in the near future of the sport.

For those who have a passion for the beautiful game, Soccernomics is one fantastic and highly informative book to form part of anyone’s collection of books or literature on football.

2011 Moira G Gallaga©

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